Howard Josepher lived with hepatitis C, a virus that can lead to chronic liver problems, for at least two decades before he was able to access the 90-day, $90,000 drug regimen that cured him in 2015. Josepher, 78, received his diagnosis in the 1990s but said he believes he contracted the virus from shared needles sometime around 1964, shortly before he stopped using heroin for good.
“In those days, we did not know or ever hear of or use a term called hepatitis,” said Josepher, co-founder and executive director of Exponents, a lower Manhattan community center serving people with substance abuse issues. He said at least one of his friends died from liver complications.
Now epidemiologists say the virus is spreading among a new generation of New Yorkers, driven by an increase in heroin use. An estimated 200,000 residents are living with hepatitis C—more than the number with HIV—and about half are unaware of their diagnosis, according to the epidemiologists.
In September 2016, the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA2016) occurred in Hollywood, Florida. The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) organized it. Drug manufacturers, Gilead, Merck, ViiV and others provided financial sponsorship.
While antiretroviral treatment (ART) has saved millions of lives, drug companies charge exorbitant prices for ART. This has not made them popular, despite their coupons and various discounts. The drug companies have priced Hepatitis C treatments even higher. Gilead charges $94,500 for a 12-week treatment for Hepatitis C. A mark-up like that would even embarrass Nieman-Marcus.
These high costs absorb large shares of HIV spending, leaving less for other HIV programs. These same drug companies fund HIV conferences, HIV media, and LGBT media.
Note: While this is good news that HCV prices in the United States are lower than some countries it is still no excuse for the high prices that keep the HCV drugs out of reach of many people with hepatitis C who need them. Alan
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new report, “Comparison of Hepatitis C Treatment Costs,” shows Hepatitis C drug prices, specifically negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in Medicare Part D in 2015, were typically lower than prices in Europe and Japan.
The report, conducted independently by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics and commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), focuses on two drugs, Sovaldi and Harvoni, and finds that of the seven major industrialized countries, only Italy had lower average net costs than Part D for a typical 12-week course of Hepatitis C medication, however, Italy had a lower treatment rate than the U.S.
“According to this comparison, conventional wisdom has underestimated the ability of large, sophisticated, private-sector payers to reduce costs and improve access to high cost drugs,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt.